- Health, Wellness & Sports
- Equality Directory
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am standing in a soppy puddle along the I-15 roadside, holding my bike, rain pouring all around me. I have a 7 hour road trip in front of me and already, before even exiting San Diego County, my bike rack, along with my attached bike, has slipped off the trunk of my car. Twice. And this is how I find myself one Saturday morning, having run a sloshy 14 miles before departing on said trip, - standing in the pouring rain, exhausted and feeling like a drowned rat. Zapped of any remaining upper body strength after a failed attempt to stuff my bike into my Civic backseat, I stand in the rain a moment, considering turning back and going straight home. I make one last heave of the back tire, shoving it fully into the back seat. I tilt the back wheel up and push the door shut. Seeing the light on, I realize that the door is still not fully closed. I stand, hands on my hips.
It rains. I shift my weight back and forth between my feet, weighing the risk of driving 7 hours in the rain with the back door not fully shut. And so, lacking the appropriate butch road trip gear, I take off my scarf and weave it through the door handle, knotting it to the ceiling handle. The metaphor of a door neither open nor closed doesn’t escape my notice. Hours later, as I calm down in a cozy, warm bed, it occurs to me that the last half of 2010 has felt much like my soggy, messy, desperate attempt to close the door: with me wildly unprepared, tired beyond reason, and highly motivated to move forward and get on with it. It has been said that life’s best moments, like falling in love, occur not as gentle, saccharine sweet, smooth waves, but rather as sudden, disruptive, unexpected, lose your appetite moments.
Perhaps this is because it is only when we are jolted out of the ordinary that we can see the extraordinary. Otherwise, we’re too busy looking at what we don’t want that we miss what is right in front of us.
A week later, I’m telling a story over dinner with a friend. The story of the night I met a girl in an elevator. How part of me expected her to be a tool. How I wanted to find something seriously wrong with her so I wouldn’t like her. I conclude with confessing my surprise that I somehow now find myself reentering the g-word (girlfriend) world with unassuming, hot elevator girl. While my friend smiles and interjects “awww,” appropriately as I relay my story, I suddenly become aware of my smiling eyes and fluttery stomach and have one thought: Uh oh. I’m in deep shit.
Over the following weeks, two things happen at almost the same time: I begin smiling in that butterflies in your stomach way a lot and I begin to worry about getting hurt. A lot. For the first time in over a decade, I feel nothing less than terrified. Terrified of the feelings I’m having. Terrified of making an ass of myself. Terrified that she won’t be as into me as I’m into her. I can’ t help but wonder: why is it that we spend much of our lives thinking about what it is we want, and the rest of it thinking about how not to lose it once we have it?
The next day, I stare down at a big pile of past life: years worth of old cards, notes, and letters. As I unpack the last of past life boxes, I can’t help but notice the bitter symbolism of throwing away years worth of promises. And I realize I’m scared of this cycle: meet girl, fall in love, partner, nest, break up, recover. Like want. Get. Lose. Recover. Repeat. A part of me wants to crawl up into a nice safe place and forget love altogether. Lonely old cat lady flashes through my mind as a potential future and I take a deep breath and silently promise not to let fear direct my life. I make a list of other things I was afraid of that turned out okay:
- 9th grade gymnastics sectionals (I fell off the beam – very, very hard)
- showchoir audition (I danced out of my shoe)
- first day teaching elementary school (a blur)
- coming out to my parents (stumbling over my words)
- conducting a company training (finished an hour early)
I shake my head, laughing to myself at how impossible and imperfect these moments were, yet somehow all was okay in the end. I got back up on the beam, danced right back into my shoe, taught school for 8 years, introduced girlfriends to my family, and won an award for a work training. Maybe life is not so different from my jerry-rigged door, I decide: a messy dance of half-open, half-closed doors, pieced together with the fabric of our hope that in the end, moving forward from a place of passion, versus fear, is always worth the risk. Even if you have to improvise somewhere along the way.